Unique Alpine TPG 1 rifle
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- Last updated: 27/01/2017
Unique Alpine are an Austrian company that have a defined look when it comes to tactical and precision rifles, not only for the military but also for budding long range shooters here in GB. Their TPG 1 is a good example of the company’s precision products.
The TPG 1 is large rifle, make no mistake, tipping the scales at over 14 lbs and it has that very modular look that gives it an instant “Sniper” rifle outline. Although maybe not very elegant looking, this is nevertheless incredibly comfortable to use, due to all the adjustable dials and the quick stock removal and barrel change. Add to this a good calibre choice from .223 to .338 Lapua Magnum and you have an unusual design that just looks like it is going to shoot well. I have shot the .300 Win Mag version some years ago at Radnor ranges out to 1500 yards and found it very capable of hits on five gallon oil cans at that distance. Here the rifle on test is in .308 Win calibre.
Barrel and Brake
The barrel is a heavy profiled stainless steel unit befitting this type of rifle and looks to me as though it is a Walther. There are eight flutes deeply cut around its circumference for 17inches length of the barrel, which on this model and calibre is 26 inches overall, although you can choose 28 inches for the Magnum model. There is even an 18 inch length .308 barrel for subsonic work which really interests me as I have a serious passion for subsonic big bores.
The rifling twist is a pretty standard 1 in 12, so is fine for bullets up to 180 grains weight although I would prefer a 1 in 10 twist (as the subsonic version has as standard), so that heavier long range bullets i.e. 208 grain A-Maxes and Berger 210 grains would be good long range varminters. The test rifle came with an optional muzzle brake (£485) and was a welcome addition, as proven in the field test. This is a big unit, 2.75 x 4.5 inches with 12 radial slits or vents along its length. Sadly the thread is not compatible with standard sound moderator threads, although Stuart from York Guns said this is being remedied. The barrel is fully free floated, there is serious daylight between barrel and forend which suits me and undoubtly helps in the accuracy potential. Also the barrel can be removed easily by slacking four Allen screws and sits with a collar so a calibre change or storage is not a problem; this is a nice feature.
Visually the most striking feature of this particular Alpine was the optional Camouflage stock coating. Made in two sections with an alloy chassis system to which a tough plastic polymer is “skinned” it has a moulded-in textured finish for grip. The forend is very boxy but this rifle is probably going to be shot off a bipod anyway, so its not particularly ergonomic design is no problem. There is a full length rail underneath for a sling swivel attachment and hand stop etc. if desired.
The rear section or butt is very interesting, having a very nice thumbhole design with all manner of adjustable features. The shooting hand is comfortable and supported well with an adjustable palm shelf at the base of the pistol grip, enough room to grip and operate the bolt in a hurry and sculptured finger grooves and firing finger rest.
Moving back along the butt, the mid-section is scalloped underneath with a rising cheekpiece or comb section that is operated by one large thumb wheel and secured by two wheel clamps. The cheekpiece itself is synthetic and smooth and adjustable for cant so a correct sight picture is guaranteed, although with it elevated the bolt cannot easily be removed for cleaning.
The butt pad is adjustable for length, pitch, cant and height, a whole host of choice, and welcome for those with long arms or unusual head positions. There is also a long extendable monopod support that extends from the rear butt section so you do not have to keep the rifle supported with the shooting hand – a convenient and typical feature on these types of rifles.
What is unusual though is that loosening a single Allen key is all that is necessary to quickly remove the butt section from the receiver. This is handy for cleaning and also means the rifle can be stored in a small case or gun cabinet; in some ways it is better than a folding rear butt section.
The aluminium chassis forms the backbone to which the high tech alloy receiver mounts attach to, rather like the old Tikka M65A rifle. On top is an integral Picatinny rail that has a 30 MOA full rail not your usual 20 MOA which gives away this rifle’s long range usage.
The bolt is massive at 7.5 inches long and has three good solid lugging lugs with rebated bolt body behind them. There is a plunger type ejector and large Sako type extractor. The bolt body has nine straight lined flutes for look not function, and the bolt handle has a large synthetic knob on a raked back shaft. This is comfortable to use with a bolt lift of only approx 60 degrees
Interestingly the safety catch is sited on the back of the bolt shroud and looks like a hammer from a lever action gun! In fact it’s very handy to use, in its ‘up’ position it allows the TPG 1 to fire, whilst when pushed it locks the firing pin but the bolt can still be operated to remove a cartridge out of the chamber.
The trigger is housed with a ¾ length trigger guard and has an adjustable shoe for length and tilt, and is quite pronouncedly curved. It is fully adjustable for travel weight and is a single stage unit with a weight on this test rifle of 2.75 lbs. Very crisp and definitely a good feature. In front of this is a disappointing magazine arrangement, in that the catch is a push down lever centred where the Mag recesses and is a bit fiddly to operate. The magazine is a single stack five shot model, I had no feed problems but a staggered flush magazine would be better in my view.
So far so good, but how does it shoot? I tested a variety of factory ammo and reloads with some interesting results. Firstly, if you buy an Alpine get the muzzle brake fitted. Yes it is noisy but it effectively reduced recoil to that of a .222, OK it’s a heavy gun but with the brake fitted you can sometimes spot your own shots - especially when shooting at long range.
I set up the chronograph and proceeded to shoot groups at 100 yards. First up were the factory loads (see table).
Firstly the Schmidt and Bender PM2 scope used in the test was sublime but that’s for another in-depth test article soon. York Guns sent down some Sellier and Bellot ammo for testing with the rifle, always considered cheap, yet in fact, as can be seen, it was actually rather good. The FMJ 147 grain load shot very consistent groups under 1.5 inches but two shots were always together and the third opened up the group. Velocity was good at 2807 fps from the 26 inch barrel and for a cheap target load would suit most people.
The other three S&B factory loads were hunting orientated. The 180 gr load shot 2478 fps velocity so only just deer legal velocity in Scotland and from a shorter or normal length barrel of say 24 inches you would be in trouble. Accuracy from the 1 in 12 twist barrel was actually good at 1.0 inches so a nice red deer load.
The 150 grain S&B load uses a soft point with cutting edge bullet type, which cut nice little holes in the target and grouped very well, three shots in 0.75 inches at a velocity of 2782 fps and 2579 ft/lbs energy. I tried it in my Tikka rifle and got 0.65 inch groups so the ammo is good.
Final S &B load is a TSX Barnes bullet that travelled at 2633 fps for the 168 grain bullet but groups were 1.75 inches or larger so not really suitable for this rifle.
The other Barnes TSX bullet load was a Federal 150 gain bullet and this sped along at 2969 fps for 2937 ft/lbs energy, a high pressure round but again only managed 1.65 inch groups at 100 yards.
Both the RWS and Remington factory loads were very good, the RWS are quality ammunition and three shots grouped in less than 0.55 inches for the 150 grain load at 2811 fps. Remington Accubond similarly shot 0.65 inch groups, very good in real terms.
The reloads were better and I still think I could improve on these figures. The E-Tips (another non-lead bullet) was actually poor at 1.75 inches but the Ballistic Silver tip load of 45 grains of Reloder 15 powder and Federal match primer shot 2835 fps was much better printing 0.5 inch groups. The best load was actually the light 110 grain Berger bullet load above 40 grains of H4198 powder to give 3146 fps and 2418 f/lbs energy and tack drove bullets into 0.35 inches consistently – perfect!
I like my rifles with a good bit of walnut on them or a sporter synthetic profile but there is no denying the well thought out and functional design of the TPG 1 rifle. I like the accuracy potential with certain loads and the lack of felt recoil and muzzle jump that the muzzle brake imparts on firing, and that the stock - although looking unwieldy - is in fact very comfortable and adjustable for anybody – anybody human that is.
The 30 MOA rail gives plenty of adjustment for those far out shots and the trigger certainly contributes to accuracy.
The magazine is less to my liking but being a switch barrel system the Alpine gains points again for versatility. This is one of those rifles that floats your boat or not, and if you are in the market for a very well made tactical rifle then the TPG 1 will give you an unusual format with plenty of potential.
PRICE: £4395 with camo stock, £4145 with black stock